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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 6, 2009 @ 10:49 pm

    Senator Edward Kennedy, Friend of the Irish

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    As you all know, Senator Ted Kennedy has been struck by a serious illness. He was recently awarded a British knighthood. Given his interest in Ireland and his service to good causes in this country, including peace efforts over several decades, it seems to me this appeal from Trina Vargo, one of his former staffers, is worth bringing to your attention:-


    Irish Times photograph of Senator Kennedy at Stormont 8 May 2007 by Dara MacDonaill.

     Dear Deaglán:
    We’re writing to urge you to contribute to the effort described below and please pass this on to everyone on your own lists, social networks, you name it. Every donation, no matter how small will help and is most welcome. And we would love a massive demonstration of support to show Senator Kennedy how much we appreciate all he has done for the US-Ireland relationship. Thank you for considering this.
    Public can join effort to thank Senator Ted Kennedy for all he’s done for Ireland
    US-Ireland Alliance launches program to educate American high school students
    For Immediate Release contact: Trina Vargo
    March 6, 2009 011-353-86-8472672 (Ireland)
    The US-Ireland Alliance is inviting all those who would like to say thank you to Senator Ted Kennedy, for all he has done for Ireland, to contribute to an educational program that will be created to teach American high school students about Ireland.
    The simplest way to contribute is to go to www.us-irelandalliance.org, click on the Donate button on the top of the page and make a contribution using Mastercard or Visa.
    Trina Vargo, founder and president of the Alliance, and a former foreign policy adviser to Senator Kennedy, said that Senator Kennedy has been a strong supporter of education and of Ireland throughout his 46 years in the Senate, and this program will enable us to teach young Americans more about the land he loves so well. I have been in Ireland for the last few weeks and many Irish people, seeing the British Government’s decision to grant a knighthood to Senator Kennedy, have expressed to me a desire to contribute something in honor of all the Senator has done for Ireland. I am hearing the same from Irish-Americans and Americans who just love Ted Kennedy. We are taking a page from the Obama campaign and going viral on the Internet in the hope that people who care about Ireland will donate and share it with everyone they know and generate an outpouring of support.
    Vargo said: Most young Americans don’t learn about Ireland in high school because it wasn’t related to the American Revolution, the French Revolution or WWII. Over the years, many high school teachers have told me that, if they had the materials, they’d teach about Ireland. The goal of the Alliance is to help provide these materials and make them widely available to public and private schools across the country.
    It would be a large step forward if American high school students have a week of Ireland in their History and English classes. We plan to create a panel of experts Irish and American to contribute themes and ideas so that we can make the materials so valuable educationally that high school teachers will want to use them and students will be eager to learn from them. A further goal is to encourage high school teachers to take students to Ireland, just as French teachers take their students to France.
    Senator George Mitchell recently noted, no one over the lifetime of a career, has done more for the relationship between the people of Ireland and the US. If young Americans could be instilled with even a tiny amount of his passion for Ireland, it would fuel the relationship for centuries!
    Those unable to contribute online, may send a US dollar check to:
    US-Ireland Alliance
    2800 Clarendon Blvd. Suite 502 West
    Arlington, VA 22201
    or euro check to:
    US-Ireland Alliance
    c/o Joe O’Malley
    Hayes Solicitors
    Lavery House
    Earlsfort Terrace
    Dublin 2
    The US-Ireland Alliance was created in 1998 by former Kennedy foreign policy adviser Trina Vargo. The Alliance’s flagship project is the George J. Mitchell Scholarship program. The program, which annually sends 12 future American leaders to Ireland or Northern Ireland for a year of post-graduate study, is directed by Mary Lou Hartman and has been widely praised as comparable to the Rhodes, Marshall and Fulbright scholarships. The Alliance also hosts an annual event in Hollywood honoring the Irish in film. In April, it brought together in Belfast the negotiators of the Northern Ireland peace agreement on the tenth anniversary of the agreement. The Alliance also regularly hosts a golf tournament to introduce leading American executives to Ireland.
    The US-Ireland Alliance is a 501(c) (3) organization. In Ireland, the US-Ireland Alliance Limited is an approved body for the purposes of Section 848A, Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997. (In the event that monies are raised in excess of what will be required for this high school program, remaining funds will go toward other Alliance educational projects.)
    Trina Y. Vargo
    US-Ireland Alliance
    2800 Clarendon Blvd.
    Suite 502 west
    Arlington, VA 22201
    direct line: 703-841-5492

    • johnm says:

      Accepting a knighthood from the British crown is, as symbols go, not really one which typifies a friend of Ireland

    • Deaglán says:

      So where does that leave Bono and Bob Geldof? I note that the purpose of the Trina Vargo appeal is to have Irish history taught in US high schools. Kennedy is a US citizen and Britain is a country friendly to the US. If there were burning issues between Ireland and Britain at the moment, as when there was internment in the North or in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday, I imagine the Senator would have hesitated to accept. He jointly introduced a Senate resolution on 20 October 1971 with Senator Abraham Ribicoff calling for immediate British withdrawal and the reunification of the two parts of Ireland.

    • aggy says:

      Giving him a knighthood is a kick in the teeth to every Loyalist who fought for Britain. He is nothin but another plastic Paddy.

    • Patrick Hennessy says:

      You know when I read the above I get embarrassed to be Irish. For the British it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

      Here’s the son of the US Ambasasador to Britain in the second World War (Joseph Kennedy, renowned bootlegger), who some say was actively working to stop the US getting involved so that Britain would go down to Hitler (ever hear about those German submarines in Irish territorial waters around 1944?)

      His family turned out to be talented but a mixed bunch. In 1969 Ted Kennedy swam ashore in the middle of the night from Chappaquiddick lake and left a girl who was in his car (but should not have been allowed to drown). OK he was half-drunk, but ……….he seriously f……ed up and essentially poured all the JFK and Bobby Kennedy goodwill down the drain in one gulp.

      Over the past 40 years since 1969 Ted Kennedy has been a workhorse, a brilliant thinker, a man who got more sensible legislation than any Senator in history through Congress. Penance? Whatever, that’s what he did.

      He was the delicate balance of power which made several British Prime Ministers pause before thinking of turning the screw on the Irish vis-a-vis Northern Ireland. But he did not want the violence of the IRA. NORAID he had to dance around. Difficult balance. He built up a pro-Irish political coalition in the two Houses who wanted a PEACEFUL solution and stood in the shadows (but obvious to all) as the talks went on and on to Good Friday.

      Now if after all that the Queen wants to give him a Knighthood so f…ucking what?

      I believe that the the Queen recognises that, like herself, this old man grew with the years and as he grew he helped bring peace to both sides. As did she by shutting her mouth on the issue.

      But when I read the above ranting castigating a 76-year-old man who is on a penance binge for 40 years since 1969 doing good work, I ask myself who the hell are these saints that write on this blog!



    • Deaglán says:

      I also saw some letters in the Daily Telegraph bemoaning Ted’s knighthood from a right-wing anti-Irish nationalist viewpoint.

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